New agents will make mistakes. It’s not that they don’t have the chops or their intentions are bad; most mistakes are due to inexperience. Each day in real estate can be a lesson learned, and brokers who have spent years in the business can play a meaningful role in revealing some of the secrets of success they acquired early on. Here are a few lessons to think about and share as you mentor and guide new agents in your office.
Not everyone will love you. Anthony Gucciardo learned during his first few months in real estate that not everyone is going to want to work with him, and he shouldn’t take it personally. The broker-owner of Gucciardo Real Estate Group in Albany, N.Y., remembers getting a listing in Clifton Park, N.Y. Things were going great for him at the time, and he was headed toward becoming a top producer. But the seller called him and said that she decided not to list with him because she thought he was too young. “I was absolutely devastated,” Gucciardo says. “I remember I sat down in the store where I was at. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that not everyone is going to love you, and you just have to keep forging ahead.”
Listen to your gut instinct. “I never regretted walking away from a situation that looked really good but somehow just felt wrong,” says Niffy McNiff Bube, broker-owner at Steamboat Ski Town Real Estate in Steamboat Springs, Colo. She has watched new agents get excited about the industry, then begin crossing ethical boundaries and making other agents feel uncomfortable. She says new agents must understand that their actions represent who they are as a person, and successful real estate professionals want to work with ethical people. So if a situation feels wrong, listen to that inner voice saying “no.”
Keep an updated database of people you know. German Llanos has been in real estate for 32 years, and as owner and managing broker of 24 Hour Real Estate LLC in Chicago, he doesn’t want his agents to underestimate the number of people in their sphere. “If you add up all the people you really know who care about you, that’s a lot of people,” he says. Newcomers need to understand their own database and connect with them on social media platforms. “I wish I [had] known all that in the beginning of my career. I made cold calls. But you had to earn their trust, and that takes a while,” he says.
Success can breed envy. Gucciardo originally worked for a big national agency. In his first few months, he got 10 listings. Some of the agents in the office drew mustaches and poked holes in his photo on the office bulletin board fact sheets. A few months after that, the office decided not to post agents’ new listings anymore. “It was making the less productive agents feel uncomfortable. I was 21 years old at the time, and to me, this was high school all over but worse,” he says.
Make sure you have fun. Being an agent can be highly stressful, Bube says. “You need to laugh when things get crazy.” She has found that a sense of humor and laughter can get you through the tough times. Taking time out with family and friends is just as important as working hard. It rejuvenates you to keep on shining in your profession.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. During Gucciardo’s first few years, he created many marketing ideas. Although there were some who criticized what he was doing, several agents copied or tried to imitate his plans. “It was extremely frustrating. But you have to remember to keep moving forward and not worry about the competition,” he says.
Develop relationships in person. There is nothing like a face-to-face meeting with a client, Llanos says. “Break bread with them, have a coffee with them, and get to know each other. It’s hard to build a relationship with just texting,” he says. “And never ask to do business with someone before you actually develop a relationship.”
Learn about appraisals and valuations. Valuation is the main part of an agent’s job, but most newbies don’t understand how to do that, says Tim Halladay, broker-owner of Living Well Realty and Victory Funding, both in Malta, N.Y. There is a huge gap in what real estate agents should know about appraisal and what they really know, he adds. You don’t want to be off by thousands of dollars in a home price estimate. If someone wants to be an expert in the field of real estate, they should use valuation as a science just like an appraiser does.